Harry Potter is not suddenly "cringe." You've just gone crazy.
Hamilton didn't change. You did.
If you live long enough, some bit of pop culture that you once loved will disappoint you. I loved The West Wing when it was on. I love lots of television shows, but I loved the West Wing. It spoke to a part of me that was bigger than a television show. It spoke to my politics and my views of how the world should work. I was the kind of person who liked the West Wing. I’ve seen every episode a dozen times and know most of them by heart. But about ten years ago I started finding it incredibly annoying. Bartlet is a terrible president! These people accomplish nothing! They’re so earnest and yet also so patronizing! The entire show is based on the false premise that a good speech can convince everyone to do what they know is right! It was a Clinton-era liberal fantasy that became a sort of escapist response to the Bush years. But by the Obama years, it just felt false. We were living in the time of Glenn Beck and death panels. Everything felt more like The Thick Of It. I went from being A Person Who Liked The West Wing to A Person Who Recognized The West Wing Was A Lie.
This happens! For people who are deep into politics, with explicitly political things, this happens. The politics change, we change, and our relationship to the work changes.
For instance, there is a whole episode of the West Wing about how the filibuster is good. How did I like this episode when it came out?
Of course, a lot of people watched the West Wing for reasons unrelated to their own personal relationship with politics. A lot of them just like Martin Sheen, or Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue. Millions almost certainly watched it because it was better than whatever else was on in that time slot.
I was one of the minority of West Wing viewers who saw it through an identity prism of my own politics. There were no other shows that I did that with. But since the people who talk about a show most are also the most likely to have this irrational connection to it, the discourse around the West Wing often oversampled people like me.
I remember going to the set one day in the first season and meeting some of the actors—my dad had been in The American President and was shooting something on the same lot—and discovering that one of the members of the cast was a Republican. It seemed impossible to me that that was true. But of course, for that actor, this was a job. They were playing a role.
It’s very hard to accept that you as a viewer are viewing something in a way that is not universal. But of course, you’re not. No one is.
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